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Petty Officer 2nd Class Doug Dawson, left, and Security Officer Lt. Paul Bradley, right, stand by a security vehicle in Yokosuka this week. Seven vehicles will be outfitted with mobile video systems this September.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Doug Dawson, left, and Security Officer Lt. Paul Bradley, right, stand by a security vehicle in Yokosuka this week. Seven vehicles will be outfitted with mobile video systems this September. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Smile for the camera, or grimace, depending on why you’re looking into Yokosuka security’s new mobile video system.

Security will have seven audio-visual recording systems installed on patrol vehicles next month as a test run, said Lt. Paul Bradley, security officer.

“There are always two sides to the story,” Bradley said. “This will keep everything on the up and up.”

The audio and video units are triggered automatically by turning on the vehicle’s lights and sirens and also can be flipped on at the patrolman’s discretion, Bradley said.

The footage is password-protected, and only certain people will be able to access it, he said. The cost of the first seven units — including installation, equipment, training and maintenance — is about $50,000.

“Eventually, we’d like all of our patrol vehicles to have them,” Bradley said. “We added cameras to our interview rooms a while back, and we found that having a record helps out everyone.”

Doug Dawson had a system in his patrol car as a civilian police officer in Texas, and found that a visual record prevented erroneous complaints and helped settle disputed tickets. Now a petty officer second class, Dawson lobbied for cameras here to protect both the patrolmen and the community, he said.

“Take a sobriety checkpoint, for example. A person blows by and doesn’t even stop. Instead of engaging in a dangerous pursuit, we have a picture of the license plate and can track them down,” Dawson said. “We have all the information we need.”

Cameras also can be used to train security officers, Bradley said.

Whether information from the cameras can be used as evidence is still being discussed at the legal office, Dawson said.

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